NOVEMBER 30, 2023 — Thousands of graduating Roadrunners celebrate earning their degrees each May and December by participating in special traditions tied to the momentous occasion.
UTSA's Commencement ceremonies will return to the Alamodome on Saturday, December 9. Graduates of the College for Health, Community and Policy, the College of Liberal and Fine Arts and the College of Sciences will cross the stage during the 10 a.m. ceremony. Graduates of the Carlos Alvarez College of Business, the College of Education and Human Development, the Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design and University College will receive their degrees at the 4 p.m. ceremony.
Scheduled at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 7, graduating doctoral students will participate in the doctoral hooding ceremony. At this memorable celebration, each UTSA graduate will be introduced one-by-one, to cross the stage and accept their Ph.D. degree. While on stage, a faculty member and/or advisor will drape the doctoral hood over the graduate’s head and rest it on their shoulders in front of a community of family members and friends. This year’s celebration will be held in the H-E-B Student Union Ballrooms on the Main Campus.
A faculty member drapes a doctoral hood over the head of a student and rest it on their shoulders during the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony.
There are many traditions involving the accessories students wear at Commencement. The stoles and cords draped over students’ shoulders have special meanings. Stoles, the colored sashes that students wear draped around their necks, represent involvement in various activities at UTSA. For example, student-athletes and Honors College students receive special stoles to wear.
Many first-generation graduates will wear first-gen stoles they have purchased or made. Students can also purchase a Stole of Gratitude, which they can present after their Commencement ceremony as a show of gratitude to someone whose support helped the student reach this milestone.
Commencement cords—ropes draped over the gowns, often with tassels on each end—also have special meanings. Gold honors cords are given to cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude graduates. Students who have served on active duty in the military are eligible to wear red, white, and blue Veterans Honors cords.
There are also traditions related to the caps students wear for graduation. Undergraduates wear the tassel on the right side of the mortarboard until they’re instructed to move their tassel to the left side. Master’s and doctoral students always keep their tassels to the left.
Over the years, guests have taken note of the many brightly decorated mortarboards that students wear. UTSA students have embraced the tradition of sprucing up their mortarboards with individualized art and special messages to help them stand out in the crowd on Commencement day.
Students often decorate their mortarboards in a theme or message that is important to them and represents who they are.
Another group of students with attention-grabbing headwear are those getting degrees in construction science and management; they wear special orange hard hats. And, be on the lookout for graduates wearing Rowdy’s orange feet. Students who served as mascots during their time at UTSA get to wear the feet during graduation celebrations, where their faces are revealed for the first time.
Another unique tradition involves the UTSA class rings that many graduates wear. The rings spend a night at the Alamo to connect them to the history of San Antonio before they are presented to graduates at UTSA’s semi-annual ring ceremonies.
Since UTSA’s first graduation celebration in May 1976, mariachis have performed to help give a celebratory feel.
Mariachi Los Paisanos perform outside of the Alamodome after the Commencement ceremony.
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